Trump has decided to cut all funding to UNRWA. This puts in jeopardy schooling and health care for Palestinian children. It was reported this morning that UNRWA schools will run out of funding at the end of September.
Meanwhile in Gaza, hospitals have been stretched beyond their limit as a result of the excessive force used by Israel during the peaceful March of Return. During the six weeks of protests earlier this year at least 135 Palestinians have been killed. Shockingly more than 13 were children. Also, the deaths included some who were clearly marked as medical personnel and reporters. More than 16,700 Palestinians have been wounded, the majority severely, with some 1,400 struck by 3-5 bullets. Many of those wounded were hit with live ammunition using expanding butterfly bullets designed to kill from 800 m but hitting most Palestinians at 200-500 m with such high energy that it turned bone into biological shrapnel tearing soft tissue and leaving immense exit wounds. Imagine the effect on your local hospital if these types of injuries occurred in your city let alone in Gaza where the infrastructure is compromised. On the Israeli side, only 1 soldier was lightly wounded and the fence had not been breached.
We are at a critical juncture in the world. The Americans elected a narcissistic, megalomaniac who seems intent on disrupting world order. I envision Trump rubbing his hands in glee while smirking similar to that of the Grinch created by Dr. Seuss.
Unfortunately, there are real people paying the price for the actions of this ignorant man. The question becomes will other governments in the world step up their assistance? I hope and pray they will.
Below is a letter to the Canadian Cabinet ministers responsible for foreign relations written a couple of days ago.
September 2, 2018
Dear Minister Freeland and Minister Bibeau,
I write to you on behalf of the United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI), a network of members and friends of the United Church of Canada, to ask that the government increase funding to UNRWA as a result of the decision by the Trump administration to cut all funding to this agency.
I and many members of UNJPPI have visited various UNRWA refugee camps where we have personally witnessed the important work of the UN in supporting this group of refugees who have suffered the most as a result of the creation of the state of Israel. What is of special concern is the basic health and education of children in the camps who are especially at risk because of this callous and heinous move by the Trump administration.
Palestinians have waited for 70 years to have their legitimate rights restored. Still, Israel refuses to comply with their obligations under the terms of the Geneva Conventions. It is increasingly important for your government to pressure Israel to negotiate a fair and just peace for Palestinians and an end to Israeli violations of international law.
We trust your government will follow the lead of the Germany in offering additional support to UNRWA so they can continue their good work of supporting this seemingly forgotten community of refugees.
Peace, Paix, Salaam, Shalom,
Rev. Steve Berube,
Chair: United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel